Man:  The Image of God
Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz

B. Childress
Jun 14 2011

King David was one of history's most insightful observers of human nature, particularly as he thought about man in
relation to God.  In Psalm 8, David asks God a moving question:

    When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
    what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him?

It is a question Christians care a lot about because we measure our worth by how God sees us.  We hope that by this
point in the book your appreciation for God has increased.  Perhaps you're even in awe of who God is, and what He has
done for each of us.

If you are at that point, as David was, then it is only natural to look at yourself the way David did.  He wasn't being critical
of human beings, just realistic.  David perceived man's insignificance in comparison to God and His handiwork. That's
why it's natural to wonder:

  •  So, why did God create man?

  •  Why does God seem to care so much about us?

  •  Why are we here?

In this chapter we are going to try to answer these questions as we look at the final act of God's creation: man.

Where Man and Woman Came From

And God Created Man

When you read the description in Genesis 1 of how God set man on this earth, you get a clear and dramatic sense that
man mattered immensely to God:

    Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the
    birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground"
    (Genesis 1:26-27).

This verse contains an example of the three Persons of the Godhead - the Trinity - working together on a single project:
man.  We know that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were one with God at all points of Creation, but the emphasis in these
verses gives this process special meaning.

Later in the Creation story, the writer of Genesis describes how God made the first man, Adam:

    The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the
    man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden - the most beautiful, perfect place ever on earth.  God wanted Adam to "work it
and take care of it."  Then He told Adam that there was something very important he needed to know about this garden:
that he (Adam) was not to touch or to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil or he would "surely

We don't know if Adam truly understood what "die" meant, since death was not yet part of earth's experience.  God
created a perfect world.  It truly was paradise.

We do know that God gave Adam a very specific command:
Don't touch the tree [of the Knowledge of Good and Evil] .  
He also was very clear about the consequences.

Woman - God's Finishing Touch

That's when God did something very wonderful for Adam.  He created woman.

    The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper suitable for him."  So the LORD
    God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and
    closed up the place with flesh.  Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man,
    and he brought her to the man (Genesis 2:18,21-22).

Like any red blooded male, Adam responded positively to seeing a woman for the first time.  But we find no gasp of
"Wow!" and no long welcoming speech.  Instead. Adam was stunned that she was an
expression of his very being.  
Listen to what he said:

    The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was
    taken out of man" (Genesis 2:23).

So the scene was set.  God created a perfect world and put Adam and Eve into the middle of paradise.  What could
possibly go wrong?

For now, we want to focus on the nature of man as he was created.  Even though every human being since man's
creation has been different because of Adam and Eve's disobedience, we still possess those same qualities God
lavished on the crown of His Creation - human beings.

What It Means to Be Human

A Creation Set Apart

As a member of the mammal category, man shares many characteristics with other very highly developed creatures
(such as opossums):

  •  He breathes air.

  •  He is warm-blooded.

  •  He has hair.

  •  He lives in communities.

Seriously - while man may bear structural resemblance to other mammals, especially primates, in so many ways man is
completely unique.  One of a kind.  In fact, many people who refuse to acknowledge God as Creator will acknowledge
that it requires more "faith" to believe man evolved from primates than it does to believe he is a created being.

Understanding that God created man
in His image is critical.  That we are made in God's image explains why every
person who has ever lived has thought about God.  God's image - His imprint - is there.  It is this divine imprint which
ultimately gives us our value.

Is "Imago Dei" a Designer Label or a Photo Gallery?

Yes to both - in a way.  Imago Dei is a Latin term meaning "man in the image of God."  Human beings bear the imprint of
Him, His design; we are His "photograph."

In the Garden of Eden, where man was perfect, the likeness of man to God must have been even more marked.  But
even after man disobeyed God, His imprint remained.  As God told Noah years later:

    Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man
    (Genesis 9:6).

From this truth come some extremely important beliefs for Christians.  All human beings have dignity because of God's
divine imprint
.  Human life is to be respected and preserved, whether it is very young or very old, strong or weak.  "And
from each man
,"  God said in Genesis 9:5, "I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man."

When God Took Dust in His hands

Man is the only living thing personally and lovingly crafted by the Creator (God made everything else by calling it into
existence - Genesis 2:7, 21-22).  Perhaps as a result, we have several important, unique qualities:

  •  Man alone can communicate with God.

  •  Man alone has been given the right and responsibility to manage the earth's resources and to rule over all living
    things (Genesis 1:26m 28-30).

  •  Man alone is morally responsible to obey God.

  •  Man alone has both a physical and a spiritual dimension.  In addition to his physical body, man has a heart,  
    soul, mind, and will.

Heart, Soul, Mind and Will

1.  The Heart of Man.  In everyday speech, we use the word heart in a variety of ways, usually having nothing to do
with the actual organ that pumps blood through our bodies.

In similar ways, the Bible talks about the heart of man in these nonphysical ways:

  •  The heart has emotion (Psalm 37:4).

  •  The heart has a will (Exodus 7:22).

  •  The heart has thoughts (Matthew 15:19).

In a very real sense, the heart is the human control center for emotions and deepest desires.  In Proverbs, Solomon
tells his son, "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (4:23).

2.  The Soul of Man.  Heart and soul often go together in music and literature, but there is a distinction between the
two.  The soul, which is sometimes referred to as the spirit, is the eternal essence of a person, the part that never dies.

  •  We are commanded to love God with all our soul (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37).

  •  King David loved to praise the Lord with his soul (Psalm 103:1).

  •  Jesus told His disciples not to fear those who "kill the body but cannot kill the soul" (Matthew 10:28).

Because the soul is eternal, it is often said that your soul is the real you.

The soul is also something which can be lost in the spiritual sense.  Jesus talked about forfeiting the eternal soul in
exchange for what this temporal world has to offer:

    What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in
    exchange for his soul?  (Matthew 16:26).

The implication is clear.  A soul can be "lost eternally if a man does not entrust his soul to God.  On the other hand, the
soul cannot exist without the power of God (Acts 17:28).

3.  The Mind of Man.  The mind, or thinking ability, of a person is capable of many positive things:

  •  Loving God (Mark 12:30)

  •  Understanding God's will (Ephesians 5:17)

  •  Praising God (I Corinthians 14:15)

  •  Being renewed (Romans 12:2)

But a human's mind is also capable of many negative things:

  •  Depravity (Romans 1:28)

  •  Futility (Ephesians 4:17)

  •  Darkness and ignorance (Ephesians 4:18)

  •  Being blinded by Satan (II Corinthians 4:4)

4.   The Will of Man.  Another essential but intangible part of man is his will.  This quality usually shows up early in life.  
Have you ever seen a child with a strong will?  For that matter, have you ever seen a full-gown adult with a strong will?
The will of man, or his ability to choose and pursue desired goals, is an amazingly powerful drive.  We often talk about
the will to win.  In a contest between two people, we may refer to a battle of wills.

In a spiritual sense, the will of man has played a major role since Adam and Eve.  God could have created our first
parents without the ability to choose, so that they would do only what He had determined they would do.  But He didn't.  
He gave them the power and the freedom to make their own decisions - including the decision that would change the
human race forever.

So Why Are We Here?

Why did God create man, especially since He must have known how man would respond to His command to obey Him?  
And why does He put up with us now?

The "Why are we here?" question got its best-known answer in the Westminster Confession (a church creed from 1646):

    The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

God loves His creation, especially those special creatures He made in His image.  He desires nothing greater than to
have us glorify Him in all we do, and to truly enjoy everything about Him.

Another wonderful statement is found in the Old Testament book of Micah, a prophet to Israel.  Micah gives us some
terrific insight into why we are here, and what it takes to please our Creator:

    He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love
    mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8).

Adam and Eve lived in a beautiful new world: a garden of happiness.  The companionship of man and woman.  Best of
all, the daily presence of God.  A perfect world...with just one little off-limits sign: "Don't eat from this tree.  That's God's
idea of a perfect world - a place where a man and woman could enjoy perfect happiness in perfect freedom, including
the freedom to choose - even to choose against God.


GUIDE TO GOD, by Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, Copyright 1997, HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS.